New Delhi: One of India’s batting mainstays when it comes to Test cricket is Cheteshwar Pujara. And he is often compared to former captain Rahul Dravid because of the similarities in their approach. Like Dravid, Pujara also puts a price on his wicket and never shies away from grinding it out on the crease.
However, the 32-year-old doesn’t think the similarities are there because of his fascination with Dravid.
“Despite my enchantment with him, I did not copy him. There is a similarity in our games, but that’s not because of my fascination with him,” Pujara told ESPNcricinfo in an interview.
“That came mainly through my experiences with Saurashtra, where I learnt that scoring a hundred alone isn’t enough, you have to carry your team.
“Yes, you could say that I subconsciously imbibed that from Rahul bhai. His influence had shaped my thought process.
“I cannot say in one line what Rahul bhai means to me. He has always been an inspiration, and will remain one.”
The Saurashtra batsman said he will always remain grateful to ‘The Wall’ for teaching him the importance of switching off from cricket and how it was important to keep personal and professional lives separate.
“He helped me understand the importance of switching off from cricket. I had the same thought, more or less, but when I spoke to him, it gave me a lot of clarity about it and I was sure of what I needed to do,” Pujara said.
“I also saw in county cricket how they keep personal and professional lives separate. I value that advice a lot. Many people consider me to be focused. Yes, I am focused, But I also know when to switch off. There is life beyond cricket.”
Further praising Dravid, Pujara said that the best part about the former Indian captain is that he understands a player’s psychology. “I was lucky that I had him around when I started playing cricket. He had already gone through so many things in his journey, so he was able to tell me what I could expect, in a way,” he said. “He helped me understand when I was young that it is not all about technique. As a young cricketer you might want to focus on technique a lot, but eventually I realised — yes, you need technique, but there are other aspects as well.”
In the historic 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Australia, Pujara was one of the main architects of India’s famous win Down Under. He scored three centuries and was the leading run-getter in the four-match rubber. And similar performance would be expected from him when India travel to Australia later in the year to defend the trophy.